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Seminar: Music & American Radical Politics, Fall 2021: open to all

Fall 2021, open to Grad/UG from across the TTU campus, TR 12:30-1:50pm. All welcome, and please pass the word!

Dr Christopher Smith, Chair of Musicology & Director of the Vernacular Music Center


MUHL4300-003 (16367) / MUHL5320-001 (33751) Music and American Radical Politics

12:30-1:50pm TR M209

On the North American continent, humans have sung to express individual and community identity for well over a millennium. And, especially since European first contact in the late 15th century, music has been a particularly potent and central tool of political activism: Settler and Indigenous, secular and sacred. Contrasted and contested priorities have sometimes led individuals and groups to act outside the “laws” of dominant culture. This course examines that “radical” impulse in music and related expressive culture, up to and including the role of music and related idioms in very recent American public conflicts.

MUHL4300/MUHL5320 is a one-semester graduate-level course exploring the interactions of music, cultural history, and political activism in Mesoamerica and North America. We will begin with Settler/Indigenous interaction in the 16th century, across a range of cultural contacts, and continue chronologically through a wide range of radical musics from across the political spectrum, including evangelical, Indigenous, Revolutionary, slaveholding, abolitionist, Reconstruction, Gilded Age labor, imperial wars, world conflict, Civil Rights, women’s rights, AIDS activist, internationalist, LGBT activist, environmental activist, white supremacist, and 21st contemporary political radicalism. 

Course requirements include reading and listening, mid-term and final essay exams, and a research project (paper, website, other medium) assignment. Fulfills Grad and UG MUHL requirements


All materials open-access.  All materials: open source. No textbook purchase required.


Facebook “Event” at: 

Instructor’s Personal Statement:

I have been a student and scholar of musical styles, instruments, performance practices, and cultural contexts—including radical contexts—since approximately 1974. Although I am a descendant of Settler/Colonizers, and hold my own political convictions deeply, I nevertheless consider myself an ally of many marginalized musics and of the complex and challenging cultural experiences from which they emerge. At the same time, I recognize that I am an outsider to many forms of experience and I vow to always seek to center native and BIPOC voices in this course’s content, practice, personnel, and outlook.

Contact Dr Christopher Smith (  or visit the Vernacular Music Center's website (  for more information.


Chris Smith


School of Music

Event Information
Time: 12:30 PM - 1:50 PM
Event Date: 8/24/2021

M209 SOM